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New Ocean Health Index Accounts for Benefits to People

News posts

Scientists have developed a new comprehensive index designed to assess humanity’s benefit from healthy oceans. The Ocean Health Index, developed by collaborators from nearly 20 institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, was used to evaluate the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. The findings, published in the journalNature, show that the global ocean overall scores 60 out of 100 on the Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. The highest-scoring locations included both densely populated, highly developed nations such as Germany (73), as well as uninhabited islands, such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific (86).

The Index, the development of which was led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and Conservation International, is the first broad, quantitative assessment that includes people as part of the ocean ecosystem. It scientifically compares and combines key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health so that decision-makers can promote an increasingly beneficial future for all ocean life, including humans.

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Fossil of Giant Lizard Described From Mammalian Collections

Research posts

Several years ago, Dr. Nikos Solounias, a visiting researcher specializing in the fossil record of animals from Samos discovered lizard bones mixed in with mammalian fossils that Museum paleontologist Barnum Brown had collected from Greece in 1924. Solounias showed the lizard bones to Jack Conrad, a research associate in the Museum’s Division of Paleontology, who recognized them as those of a varanid, a giant lizard typified by the Komodo dragon. In a new paper in PLOS ONE published last week, Conrad and colleagues Ana Balcarel and Carl Mehling have identified the 30-odd bone fragments, which fit in a box 8 inches long, as the remains of the oldest giant lizard ever to walk the Earth. If proportioned like its relatives, the new species—Varanus amnhophilis, or the Samos dragon—was 6 feet long.

Tags: Mammals, Our Research

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A Dinosaur By Any Other Name

On Exhibit posts

It’s one of the most recognizable dinosaur species, yet most people know it by a name most paleontologists stopped using more than a century ago: Brontosaurus.

One of the most iconic specimens of this massive animal is on display in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, the first sauropod—a species belonging to the group of massive, herbivorous, long-tailed dinosaurs—to be mounted and displayed at the Museum.

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Podcast: Dame Daphne Sheldrick on Love, Life and Elephants

Podcasts

For more than four decades, Dame Daphne Sheldrick has devoted her life to rescuing orphaned animals in East Africa and preparing them for return to the wild on her elephant orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. In this podcast from the spring, Dame Daphne looks back at her life as a conservationist, and elaborates on stories from her recent memoir, “Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story.”

The actress Kristin Davis introduced Dame Daphne’s talk, which was recorded at the museum on May 8, 2012.

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes (54 mins, 66 MB)

Tags: Podcasts

Curator Emeritus Ian Tattersall On New Hominid Fossils

Research posts

Hominid fossils recently unearthed in Kenya provide evidence that the evolutionary line from Homo habilis—the earliest known species of the genus Homo—to Homo sapiens is not as direct as once believed, according to a feature story published August 8 in The New York Times. The fossils may confirm the simultaneous existence of at least three Homo species in East Africa some 2 million years ago.

The New York Times story about the discovery quotes Ian Tattersall, who studies the human fossil record as curator emeritus in the Museum’s Division of Anthropology. While Tattersall was not involved in the fossils’ discovery, his work similarly seeks to help unravel the mysteries of human evolution.


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